Cookie by Jacqueline Wilson ****
This novel starts off in rather a heartrending manner, with a downtrodden young girl, Beauty, and her mother abused by their controlling father. Despite this, Cookie is such a sweet, feel good story, particularly once Beauty and her mother realise the strength they have. In this book, Wilson shows that everything, however bad, can be overcome, which is such a nice message to put into children’s and young adult fiction. The characters are well developed as a whole, and I didn’t guess where the story would end up, which was a very nice touch.
Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann ***
I have read some absolutely marvellous reviews of this novel, and couldn’t wait to begin it. The prologue of Let The Great World Spin is visually stunning and well thought out. If only the rest of the book had been the same! I enjoyed the author’s writing on the whole – some of his descriptions, for example, are sumptuous – but my stumbling block came with the characters. They were interesting enough on the whole, but they were all so broken, often by alcohol and drugs. Because of this, no distinct characters stood out for me, and I found it difficult to empathise with any of them in consequence. An interesting novel, but a little disappointing by all accounts.
Poetry: Selected by Fiona Sampson by Percy Bysshe Shelley ****
Sampson’s introduction to this gorgeous Faber edition draws parallels between Shelley’s life and his poetry very well indeed. It is a beautiful little volume, and is incredibly aesthetically pleasing. The poems too are lovely. I enjoyed every single one, but my favourites were ‘Mutability’, ‘To Wordsworth’, ‘Hymn to Intellectual Beauty’, ‘Julian and Maddalo’, ‘The Mask of Anarchy’, ‘Adonais’, ‘To -‘, ‘To Jane: The Invitation’ and ‘To Jane: The Recollection’.
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner ****
I adore the Deep South as a setting and am wondering why, after finishing this stunning novel, I’ve not read any of Faulkner’s work before. I adored the differing perspectives throughout, and the way in which each and every one of them was so marvellously distinct. The story is such an absorbing one, and I love the idea of it – a family waiting for and commenting upon the death of one of their members. Faulkner’s differing prose techniques in use in As I Lay Dying are wonderful, and show that as a writer, he is incredibly skilled. Terribly sad on the whole and very cleverly constructed.